When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


For Veterans, The Wait For Disability Claims Grows Longer

Dec 27, 2012
Originally published on March 25, 2013 2:46 pm

Kevin English served three tours as a Marine in Iraq. When he came home to Arizona, he suffered from vicious headaches and neck pain that made it hard to keep a job. The worst day, he says, was when he found he couldn't lift a simple aluminum ladder.

"I actually got made fun of ... cause everyone knew I was a Marine," English says. "And they could tell I was struggling. They were, like, 'Damn, I thought you were supposed to be a Marine. Let's go.'"

The Department of Veterans Affairs had rated English as partially disabled, but the former Marine soon found working impossible. His wife, Lindsay Dove, helped him file a new claim in February 2011. Then they waited. And waited.

English was not alone. Hundreds of thousands of veterans who suffered injuries while serving in the military must wait many months for care and compensation. Slightly more than 863,000 people had pending compensation claims with the VA in December, according to a Dec. 17 report.

A Backlog Worsens

At the start of 2012, the department promised to cut into that big backlog of claims. But over the course of the year, that backlog has gotten worse, not better.

Frustrated with the wait, English's wife, Lindsay Dove, went on YouTube with her husband's paperwork in September. The video, titled, "The VA Does Not Care," became popular among veterans.

When English filed his claim, Dove says, "my baby was six weeks old. My child is almost 2 now ... This is getting absolutely ridiculous."

The department responded with its own video in October, expressing sympathy with veterans like English and explaining what it is doing to try to lessen wait times.

The VA backlog is decades old, and mythic in size. Politicians speak of rooms waist-high in paperwork, a building that sags under the weight of unprocessed forms.

At the start of 2012, it was taking the VA 188 days to resolve a veteran's claim. At the end of this year, that number had increased to 262 days.

That drove Lindsay Dove back to YouTube in November.

"Hello everybody, I'm back," she says in that video. She then displays a printout of the status of her husband's claim. "Estimated claim completion date of 10-5-2013 [to] 5-5-2014," she reads. "That, right there, is why veterans commit suicide."

More Needs, More Claims

"We feel like the backlog is unacceptable," says Tommy Sowers, assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the VA.

But, he says, the VA has made it easier for more veterans to qualify for benefits. By doing so, it also made the backlog longer.

"We say that for Vietnam veterans, that we should open it up make it easier to file a claim on Agent Orange-related diseases," Sowers explains. "That means more claims are going to come in the door. When we make it easier for veterans to be diagnosed and treated for post traumatic stress, that means more claims are going to come in the door."

The VA has also made it easier for veterans to seek benefits for traumatic brain injury.

All these changes mean the VA has been running in place. It has processed about 1 million claims a year, but more than 1 million new ones keep coming in.

Sowers says the VA will turn the corner — but not soon.

'Decades In The Making'

"I wish I could give you an answer that next month we could just throw more resources at this and eliminate [the backlog]," Sowers says. "We can't. This problem has been decades in the making and it's going to take a few years to fix."

The fixes mostly involve changing from a paper system to an electronic one. VA officials say to watch for improvements in 2014, and for the backlog to be eliminated in 2015.

But that's no comfort to Kevin English. His wife, Linsday Dove, says she worries that many vets don't have someone like her to fight the VA for them.

"My thing is, Kevin has me, and I'm advocating and I'm fighting for him," Dove says. "He gave up a long time ago."

Dove used her own private health insurance to get English surgery for his neck. Then, just after Thanksgiving, the VA came through with a ruling — almost one year earlier than his latest update had indicated: 100 percent disability benefits.

Dove says the VA won't tell her if the decision had anything to do with her YouTube videos.

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